The Malta Independent 11 December 2017, Monday

How low can you go!

Gejtu Vella Tuesday, 5 December 2017, 09:09 Last update: about 5 days ago

I find it difficult to grasp the reasons why people opt to dig their heels deep in the ground and refuse to alter their course of action and/or opinion instead of taking the admirable way and search for a coherent solution.  I despise stubbornness which I believe stems from arrogance.    

Lately, the Partit Laburista issued a press release in reaction to various statements made by senior PN officials in the House and outside.  Without going into the merits of the issues raised, what should raise eyebrows is not the content of the crossfire between the parties but the fact the PL saw fit to raise issues which allegedly surfaced during the PN’s term in office. The last sentence in the PL statement encapsulates it all: “If he wanted resignations and political responsibility, the first thing Adrian Delia should do was to look around him”, the PL said.

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Irrespective of whether the allegations made by the PL against former and current PN Opposition members hold water or not, these should not be used to justify any alleged wrongdoing.  

Two wrongs do not make a right. 

Even, if for one moment, the allegations put forward in the released press release by the PL were accurate and correct, these do not justify the serious alleged cases of corruption and abuse which impinge directly or indirectly on the rule of law and which the current administrations seems to be shackled with; all because a minister and the chief of staff to the Prime Minister saw fit to use their public office for personal gain.  Notwithstanding that various calls for their resignation were made, including from senior PL ministers and a former PL prime minister, all pleas were ignored.  

This implicitly indicates that, in the event of a change in government, the new incumbents are able to claim sufficient reason not take full responsibility for their actions, and to refer to the current situation to justify any shortcomings, whether the shortcomings are premediated or are the result of having inadvertently assumed a responsibility that is not in their remit.

From the perspective of the genuine electorate where red or blue does not cloud judgement, this tit for tat breeds serious concern.  The PL is providing fodder for future administrations, and a vicious circle which will impoverish future generations while keeping the current one frustrated because accountability has been relegated to the lowest denominator.   

The electorate deserves accountability from politicians, similar and equal to that held by other persons holding public office.  In the event they fail to fulfil their duties diligently and effectively they, irrespective of whether they are politicians or public officials, should resign or be forced to resign.

In his 1944 Christmas message, Pope Pius XII pointed out that organised and liberally financed politicians are clever at manipulating the amorphous crowd to get votes and achieve power, their only goal, from which position they totally forget the people’s interests and take care of their own and that of the party which supported them.   Any political organisation which does not begin by enlightening and organising people so that they can keep an eye on their representatives is a political monopoly, the monopoly of crowd manipulation at election time.  It is a monopoly all the more perfidious, as it carries the appearance of a democracy, whereas it is actually pure tyranny.

The European Parliament delegation that was on a fact-finding mission to follow up on the resolution adopted last month in the EU Parliament, expressed concerns on the rule of law in Malta.  The resolution, signed by all EU parliamentary groupings except for the Socialists and Democrats of which the PL forms part, outlined a series of concerns which EU parliamentarians have about Malta. 

Prime ministers have the privilege and the honour to lead and serve their respective communities in democracies.  At times, they have to take very bold decisions which may not be popular at all but which, notwithstanding, are necessary to safeguard the common good.

In an honest and accountable culture, prime ministers would stand up and take the blame for serious irregularities that happen under their watch.   Prime Ministers should not give, or be perceived to give, protection to errant ministers and public officials because they have obvious or covert ties to their party.

In the UK and in Ireland, in less than a month, two ministers resigned because of incorrect conduct. Priti Patel, former Secretary for International Development, was forced to resign from the Theresa May cabinet because she met with Israeli officials while on holiday in Israel.  Official meetings must be done formally, and through the proper official channels. The Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, was the second minister to resign as a result of the affair which had also claimed the heads of two police chiefs and exposed systemic weakness in Ireland’s justice and policing bodies. Ms Fitzgerald was accused of knowing about, but doing nothing to avert, the legal strategy of police chiefs to discredit a whistle-blower who had exposed malpractice in the force.   

These two instances sound so uncomfortably close to home. Uncomfortably as, contrary to what ensued in the UK and Ireland, in Malta nothing has as yet happened. Hope springs eternal for the benefit of the common good.

 

gvella@melita.com

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